Poverty in the Asian American Community in New York Featuring SAYA!

NewsAs the recession deepens and more and more people around the country find themselves jobless or stretched thin economically, its important to highlight how different communities are being affected in different ways. This excellent piece from My9 News (New York) reporter Ti Hua Chang. Chang profiles Asian Americans and South Asians living at or near the poverty level in New York. Many work for long hours for low wages and have little cushion as the economy worsens. Moreover, fewer Asian Americans use government services; one of the startling facts Chang mentions is that while Asian Americans make up 12% of the city’s population, they recieve about 1% of the government or private funding. From seniors isolated to their apartments to the Bangladeshi man working two jobs to build a better future for his children, the stories are uniformly heartbreaking and underscore how these communities are suffering. The Executive Director of an NCSO partner SAYA!, Annetta Seecharan, speaks to the importance of investing in these communities and helping them build more secure futures. Check the video out at <http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102477092076&e=001aIe-v1SY2wJtz3gLloLGdx1EKmzkq4MLylD-QY-vhvtPm4PpNI1fizuFNK7DJ9xNvqE7uIqAHfOuwQFZfhlGgbyZXU4mMQErjoOS5BY3c6v1VRiakPRE5d8nicqHS-RMP1dq69Qg8mw=>

Daily Buzz 2.23.2009

1.) Students discuss the lack of… something in Asian-American Families

2.)  South Asian Man Stopped 21 times by NYPD sues

3.)  Indian-Trained American Surgeon Facing Manslaughter Charges

4.) Eye on 2012, Jindal rejects Obama dole

5.) On the road to sexual equality– A Queer South Asian Man Shares His Experience in Boston

Daily Buzz 2.19.2009

1.) Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Responds to Hip Hop Star MIA

2.) Interview with Kavitha Rajagopalan, author of Muslims of Metropolis

3.) Recession Silences more Asian-American Voices

4.) DJ Ravi Drums to Perform on the 2009 Academy Awards

5.) The UK is currently looking to classify all Sharia beliefs as extremist

6.) “Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee”: Personal Reflections on South Asian Immigrant Women’s Cultural Identity

Daily Buzz 2.18.2009

1.) Pakistani-Americans in Chicago talk about Obama

2.) Muslim & S. Asian Women’s Groups Condemn Beheading of Aasiya Hassan

3.) Opinions: Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?

4.) Professor Sudhir Venkatesh asks “What Should We Do?” to the South Asian Philanthropy Project: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

5.) Taliban threats reach Pakistani Americans

How the Economic Downturn is Affecting Nonprofits

In times of economic crisis, non-profit organizations often see an increase in the need for services. SAALT’s partners who provide services to South Asian community members are observing an increased need for housing, job training, and benefits due to layoffs, lack of jobs, and the downturn in the economy.  At the same time, non-profits too are facing the burden of the economic crisis and are having to lay off staff, reduce programming, and dip into reserve funds.

As Daniel Gross, a financial editor at Newsweek, pointed out as early as June of 2008, donations from individual donors are down from what they used to be. And with 80 percent of support to non-profits coming from 20 percent of the people in America, any reduction in giving can have a significant impact on non-profit groups.

How can South Asians who are able to give support the non-profits that are so critical in our local communities? Why give at all? Read an excerpt from a post from Sayu Bhojwani (former Executive Director of South Asian Youth Action and former Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for New York City on the South Asian Philanthropy Project blog about the importance of strategic giving within the South Asian community:

South Asian philanthropy has until recently meant contributing to causes in the home country and to regional and religious associations here in the U.S. As the community matures, accumulates wealth, and increases in number, more South Asian Americans are contributing to institutions in the United States, targeting resources to issues of concern in the community. Strategically utilized, the “brown dollar” can boost the capacity of fledgling organizations that serve the needs of minority communities across the U.S. and can play a critical role in shaping perspectives about South Asians in the broader American community.

In the fifteen years or so that I have been working in the South Asian community and in philanthropy, I have been frustrated by the piecemeal approach that people often take to philanthropy. South Asians who give, whether they are wealthy or not, are like most others who give—responsive to a personalized request from a friend or colleague, drawn by a personal connection to an issue or organization, or motivated by the need to meet a certain end-of-year level of giving

Read more here <http://southasianphilanthropy.org/2009/02/02/sapp-blog-forum-sayu-bhojwani/>

SAALT E.D., Deepa Iyer, profiled in Takoma Voice

Check out this profile of SAALT’s own Executive Director (and proud Takoma Park resident) Deepa Iyer published in the Takoma Voice. The article was written by Pareesha Narag, a student at the University of Maryland and a past student of Deepa’s.

Check out the full article here: http://www.silverspringvoice.com/archives/pdfs/2008/1208pdfs/023_mn_dec08.pdf

SAALT and Community Partners Issue Statement Regarding Recent Bias Crimes Targeting South Asians in New Jersey

You may be surprised to learn that nearly 200,000 South Asians reside in the state of New Jersey.  SAALT’s New Jersey Community Empowerment Project developed from a series of meetings in 2004 with South Asian organizations in New Jersey, allies, and concerned South Asian individuals.  Through these dialogues, it became clear that South Asian communities in New Jersey are underserved and largely voiceless in policy debates. To learn more about the New Jersey Community Empowerment Project, or to read our report highlighting key issues affecting the South Asian community in New Jersey, “A Community of Contrasts: South Asians in New Jersey,” please check out SAALT’s local initiatives page.

In response to recent bias-crimes targeted towards the South Asian community in New Jersey, SAALT, along with several South Asian community partners – Manavi; South Asian Mental Health Awareness in Jersey (SAMHAJ); the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ); UNITED SIKHS; and the Sikh Coalition issued a joint statement condemning all bias crimes.  Read the statement below:

“We come together, as organizations serving South Asian communities here in New Jersey, to denounce the recent hate crimes and bias incidents that have taken place in our state.  The South Asian community in New Jersey, with a growing population of 200,000, has long confronted bias and discrimination, beginning in the 1980’s with the attacks perpetrated by the ‘Dotbusters’ and the post-9/11 backlash.  In addition, our organizations – Manavi; the Sikh Coalition; the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ); South Asian Mental Health Awareness in Jersey (SAMHAJ); and UNITED SIKHS – have observed a rise in New Jersey, which we believe has fostered an environment where bias incidents and hate crimes can occur.

Today, we stand in solidarity not only with the Grewal family – victims of a cross-burning outside their home; Mr. Ajit Singh Chima – an elderly Sikh man who, on October 30th, in Wayne, New Jersey, was violently punched and kicked in the face several times by an unidentified man, and as a result suffered several fractures around his eyes and jaw; Gangadeep Singh – a fifth grade student who, on October 8th, was attacked in Carteret, New Jersey while walking home from school by an unidentified masked assailant that threw him on the ground and cut off his hair – but with all survivors of bias and hate crimes.

We stand together now because we must say no to any act of bias and intolerance when it happens.  We stand together to ask our elected officials and law enforcement agencies to protect survivors of hate crimes and to join us in condemning them.  As a vibrant segment of New Jersey’s neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and non-profit sectors, South Asians raise our voices to call for justice and equality for all.”

Please join us for a march and rally in support of the Grewal family on Saturday, November 15th at 3PM in Hardwick, New Jersey.  The ‘Unity for the Community’ March will start at the Municipal Building and end at the Grewal residence with a rally. 

Saturday, November 5th, 3PM
Hardwick Municipal Building
40 Spring Valley Road
Hardwick, NJ 07825
If you’d like to attend but do not have a ride, please contact Qudsia:
(qudsia@saalt.org) or call (201) 850-3333.

Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about bias and hate crimes, check out a new resource by SAALT:  “Know Your Rights Resource Addressing Hate Crimes”

History Repeating Itself: Xenophobia in Political Discourse

With merely one week until Election Day, it seems like candidate stump speeches, pundit commentary, and the volley of talking points from all sides are everywhere you turn. And if you’re anything like me, you’re transfixed to cable news and media analysis about what’s been happening on the campaign trail.

Here at SAALT, we’ve been keeping a special eye on what’s being said in this highly-charged political atmosphere particularly as it relates to the South Asian community. In recent years, we’ve unfortunately witnessed a spate of xenophobic comments being made against our community within political discourse. Such rhetoric has emerged in various forms, including challenging the loyalty of those who are or perceived to be Muslim. Sadly, this hearkens back to the sentiments and actions that led to bias and discrimination against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Arab communities in the aftermath of 9/11 and raise concerns about the overall environment leading up to election. We encourage the community to remain vigilant about such rhetoric.

Be sure to check out SAALT’s three-part toolkit on xenophobia in political discourse, which includes comments made by political figures against the South Asian community, remarks made against South Asian candidates for political office, and tips on how community members can respond to such rhetoric, which have been featured by UC Davis Law Professor Bill O. Hing over at ImmigrationProfBlog.